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IPOPHL opens dialogue with PH start-ups  

Cybersecurity algorithms, software piracy, and copyright licensing of computer programs were just a few of the topics raised by the Philippine start-up community  when it engaged with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) in an informal dialogue on Wednesday, October 10.

“It’s easy to overlook intellectual property for start-ups as you’re probably busy looking to scale up and firm up your business model first. But intellectual property is a very valuable asset and it becomes increasingly so as the business grows. Knowing your business’ IP portfolio, may it be in the technology, the product, or the solution your start-up owns is important. Also, setting down ownership of the IP assets at the onset will be useful to avoid disputes and infringement claims later on,” said IPOPHL Deputy Director General Teodoro C. Pascua during the ‘KaIPhan: Brewing Intellectual Property Conversations with Start-Ups’.

Bureau of Trademarks Assistant Director Atty. Jesus Antonio Ros apprised start-ups on both general concepts of intellectual property and specific concerns of the start-ups in their operations such as the general registrability of trademarks, the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the IPOPHL in registration, and the nuances of proprietary work in a start-up.  

Amelita Amon, Division Chief of Industrial Design Examining Division meanwhile enlightened the start-ups, of the non-patentable nature of computer programs but the source code’s protection as copyrighted material. Ms. Amon gave a basic primer on patents, utility models, and industrial design.

“Companies, innovative and creative ones most especially, would do well to have your own IP policy, seeing as how your companies generate so much work that may be protected,” Atty. Ros said.

The start-ups present raised concerns, such as how IPOPHL can encourage them to prioritise intellectual property protection when formalising their business, and how the overall process of IP protection can be streamlined.

F. Patrick Cuartero, CEO of holding start-up Pylon Partners Inc. confirmed this as majority of start-ups, both tech-enabled and traditional ones, are now primarily focused on compliance with other government agencies, and on the primary growth drivers of their company.

Atty. Ros acknowledged the different requirements that government agencies, such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and the Department of Trade and Industry, have in business registration. For IPOPHL, it has already migrated its full suite of registration facilities online, and is committed to facilitate ease of doing business.